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Waiting for other people to change

Spam Filter For Your Brain - Episode 44

I am popping in with the awkward questions this week.

How is expecting someone else to change working out for you?

I don't know about you, but I have spent many an hour, day, month, and year hoping that some particular person, at any one time, will stop doing the things they're doing, so my life can be easier. Or see things from my point of view so that I can have an easier time of it. And what I've generally noticed is that people don't really change their behaviour according to my wants and needs very much, which turns out to be very inconvenient; I've spent most of my life thinking.

And now, I have the tools and experience to take a step back and think rather than "What do I want these people to be doing?" so I can feel a different thing. I can take a step back and go actually; my feelings come from my thoughts, my brain and my life experience and my outlook on the world. Someone else's behaviour, their actions or what they're doing can't create a physical sensation in my body. It can't create electricity firing off in my brain to cause feelings in my body which we call emotions.

The emotions that I feel about stuff come from the thoughts that I have about things and basing my well-being, balancing my well-being on what someone else does or doesn't do; not only does it not produce particularly useful results, but it actually doesn't work. It can be super frustrating because it's rare that we find people actually do the things we want to, just for the benefit of us. It's weird how that works.

So what I have discovered to be extremely useful in circumstances like this is to take just a little half step back and go, okay, this thing that I'm hoping that they're going to do, what do I think that's going to give me permission to feel? What do they behave in this magical way that I have deemed to be correct? What will that allow me? And when I can identify the emotion that I think will grant me - quite often it's so often it's a relief - And I think that the feeling of relief is actually based on the concept of safety. The things that I wishful from people come down to this notion of, I guess if you strip back all of the onion layers if you do that thing, I will feel more safe, is what it mostly comes down to.

When I can identify what emotion I really want, I can start looking around me for things in my life that I create, that I have control over, and that I can generate that emotion. So rather than trying to hang my well-being on someone else and what they may or may not do suddenly, I've got a bit more power to start trying to construct the emotions, well-being, and life I want.

If we are waiting for someone else to behave in a particular way for us to feel a particular emotion, it's a very powerless place to be. And it's also somewhere that leaves us wanting, leaves us very hungry and unstable, and it feels really unsafe, and we're constantly seeking around for more of that little validation sugar rush because what if they've changed their mind? Or what if they don't do the thing again? Or how can I get more of it? Because this is the place where I get safety from. When we can actually work out how we get safety for ourselves, we can start looking at the people around us. Not as little objects to be able to change and mould and plasticine into what we want them to be, but actually see them for the people they are. And check in that we're loving the actual people who are in front of us rather than the bits that we like and ignoring the rest and just hoping that they're going to change so that they can be more deserving of our love. It's a whole other episode in that. But just looking at the basic horrible question that we began with at the beginning, "How is waiting for other people to change working out for you?"

Because if it's not working out wonderfully well so far and I never found that it was, something else could be possible.

I hope that has been a useful little question. My best mate said that some of my questions are really pokey. It feels like a pokey question, that one.

I hope it's useful and I'll speak to you next week.


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